Now on the Mother Jones homepage: Sacrificial Ram

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New today on the Mother Jones home page (and in the current issue of the magazine): Sacrificial Ram, by Daniel Duane. Not your typical MoJo story, this. Duane, a card-carrying Sierra Club member and outdoor type, recently tagged along on a “conservation hunt” in the Mexican desert for the majestic — and endangered — bighorn ram. That’s right, conservation hunt. Sounds like a term cooked up by the same folks who brought us “Compassionate Conservatism” and “Clear Skies” — but, no, it’s for real, and it works like this: Conservationists sell off the right (at a cool $60,000 a pop) to kill a couple of sheep each year, with the revenue going into conservation efforts. And it looks like the approach is paying off: since the hunts began, the bighorn population has increased fourfold.

Don’t buy it? Well, if my inbox is any guide, you’re not alone: plenty of readers have written in to give us hell. (One of the more polite emails ran as follows: “This is a classic case of ‘cognitive dissonance.’ Only a turncoat could get so enthusiaistic about supporting something he vehemently opposed in the past. Shortly, Duane will probably go to Falluja and give a glowing account about ‘how democracy is taking root among the gun pocked ruins…'”) But roughly equal numbers have praised the article — and the approach. (“Daniel Duane understands … and all it took was an open mind and one experience.”) Read the article and judge for yourself. Also, check out a Mother Jones interview with Daniel Duane where he explains how he went, over the course of the hunt, from weirded-out skeptic to gung-ho proponent of conservation hunting — won round to the idea of shooting sheep to save them.

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It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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